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Theories
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Theories
“We were almost lost in theories, there were so many of them”.
Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline, Cassell’s Saturday Journal, May 1892


AT THE TIME of the murders, every policeman, politician and bar-room philosopher had his own theory. The newspapers fed on them. Since then “Ripperologists” have regularly presented new ideas in books with titles ending “The Final Solution”, “Case Closed” and so on. Here are some of the more popular and eccentric theories.

JACK THE RIPER HAD SURGICAL KNOWLEDGE
During the Nichols and Chapman inquests Dr Llewellyn suggested that removal of organs may have been the object of Polly Nichol’s killing, while Dr Philips thought that the injuries of both women had been performed with surgical knowledge, creating a host of medical suspects. Dr Thomas Bond, who conducted later post-mortem examinations and reviewed the earlier cases, quashed the theory.

JACK THE RIPPER WAS AMBIDEXTROUS
At the Tabram inquest, Dr Killeen said that one of the wounds might have been inflicted by a left-handed person. But he clearly stated that the others were by someone wielding a weapon in their right hand.

JACK THE RIPPER WAS A SAILOR
The idea that the murderer might come and go from a ship in the docks had a logic to it. One newspaper suggested it might be a butcher or drover on a cattle boat. A customs official linked the murders to times when two Portuguese cattle boats were in London docks. The theory clearly appealed to Queen Victoria who asked in one letter to the Home Secretary if the cattle boats had been searched.

JACK THE RIPPER WAS THE GOVERNMENT
(the Masonic Conspiracy)
According to this theory, Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, secretly married Annie Crook, allegedly a Whitechapel shopgirl. Mary Jane Kelly was a witness. When Annie’s child, Alice, was born, Mary Jae sought to blackmail the government with the help of fellow prostitutes. The Prime Minister, Salisbury, turned to his fellow Freemasons to silence them. Enter then Sir William Gull, the queen’s surgeon, and Walter Sickert, the artist, who toured the area killing the conspirators. Another version of the theory has Lord Randolph Churchill ordering the killings, also involving Gull and Sickert, but this time with Montague Druitt and James Stephen (Albert Victor’s tutor) doing the killing. There are too many holes in the theories to detain us further.

JACK THE RIPPER WAS A WOMAN
Some believe that the Ripper was a midwife or abortionist, who could walk the streets in bloodstained clothing without raising any eyebrows. This seems unlikely as witnesses who saw victims with other people prior to their describe men.

JACK THE RIPPER WAS A LUNATIC
Dr L. Forbes Winslow, a highly vocal, self-styled “medical theorist and practical detective”, spent much time in Whitechapel, his earliest theory being that the Ripper was an escaped (or recently released) lunatic. Winslow also proposed that the Whitechapel police be replaced with asylum warders who could better spot possible lunatics.


Theories Theories
The popular press was filled with impressions of the Ripper drawn from eye-witness statements. The consensus seems to be that he was a short, stout man.

Theories

Dim, flickering gaslight was the only illumination to be found in courts and alleyways.

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